Antoin Watters: Commence Research on Brexit Impact

Cllr Antóin Watters

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called on the Government to commence specific research to identify the impact that Brexit will have in the border regions.

Cllr Watters said “In the Government’s ‘Action Plan on Rural Development’ it was proposed that specific research be done to identify the impact of Brexit on rural areas across the State but in particular, the border areas which will be impact most negatively of all.”

“Brexit is getting ever closer and we have MEPs like Guy Verhofstad visiting us from Belguim and a taskforce of MEPs from various countries trying to get an idea of the border area and trying to figure out the best way to proceed. Yet, this vital piece of research has yet to commence. MEPs from other countries are showing more interest than the Irish Government in the border areas.”

Cllr Watters said “We need to start this research without delay so we can have a clear understanding of what the impact will be and more importantly what contingency plans can be put in place to mitigate the consequences.”

For full details of our Alternative Budget 2018 please go to www.sinnfein.ie

Cllr Tom Cunningham Calls For Irish Government to Protect Irish Fishing Interests

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called on the Irish Government to ensure the rights of the Irish fishing industry are protected in the aftermath of Brexit.

Cllr Cunningham said Irish fishermen were in danger of becoming “the meat in the sandwich between the EU and Britain during any talks on Brexit.”

Cllr Cunningham who hails from the fishing village of Clogherhead said “Our government needs to make it absolutely clear to the EU negotiating team how important our fishing industry is to this island. You can be sure that the French, Dutch and other EU countries will do everything to protect their fishing industries and we must not be any different.”

At present, Ireland catches half its quota in British Waters. The London Convention of 1964 allowed Irish fishing vessels to fish in British waters before their entry into the EU. Britain has expressed that they are seeking to exit that agreement. After Brexit Ireland will have 30% of Europe’s viable fishing water and 40% of its fishing stocks yet Irish fishermen are restricted to landing just 5% or less of the overall catch putting tremendous pressure on the industry.

Cllrs Tom Cunningham & Imelda Munster TD at  Clogherhead Harbour

 

Cllr Tom Cunningham asked “what will happen to the EU vessels that are currently fishing in British waters? They will be displaced and the obvious place for them to go to is Ireland’s waters. Stakeholders estimate Brexit will cause the loss of between 500-600 Irish vessels and as our industry is comprised of small fishing vessels, in real terms, that means thousands of families losing their primary source of income and the decimation of coastal communities right around Ireland.”

Cllr Cunningham called on the Irish Government to “demand that the non-Irish vessels that are displaced from British waters are not redirected into increasingly crowded Irish waters.”

The British decided in July of this year to withdraw from the London Convention of 1964, however, Cllr Cunningham said he would give a cautious welcome to “remarks from the British Minister Michael Gove in August on allowing EU vessels to use British waters post-Brexit” but warned “these comments will cause as much confusion as relief. The Irish fishing industry needs certainty, it needs to know what is coming down the line so they can make adequate preparations, they don’t need this flip-flop approach from the British Government. The onus is on the Irish Government to represent the fishing industry and fishing communities.”

Government hell-bent on rip-off bin charges – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has hit out at plans by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to increase bin charges. Fine Gael have announced new pay by weight and pay by lift measures which will increase bin charges even further, and will not encourage consumers to reduce their waste.

Fianna Fáil, who introduced the privatisation of waste collection in the first instance, have stood by the government’s proposals and have made no attempt to block the forthcoming price hike.

Deputy Munster said:

“This latest government proposal adds a further financial burden on people. There is no reward for recycling or composting. Increased recycling or composting food waste will mean that the waste or rubbish bin has less in it and the charge for all bins will increase to compensate private companies for this. To claim otherwise is attempting to fool people. Everybody knows that is precisely what these waste companies will do. There is also no maximum limit for the standing charge, allowing it to increase at the companies’ will, even for households that rarely put a bin out for collection.”

“Sinn Féin has been raising this matter for years. Privatisation introduced by Fianna Fáil has led to huge increases in charges. The current government has gone further, allowing prices for waste collection to escalate further.”

“The new rules do not make exemptions for people on low incomes, and the pittance allocated to those with long term illness who have higher waste output is laughable. It amounts to under €1.50 a week for these families. Is that really the best the government can do?”

“This is another charge that many people simply will not be able to pay. People are already burdened with PAYE, PRSI, universal social charge, accident and emergency charges, prescription charges, local property tax and motor tax, and now bin charges are set to increase. The government has ignored the needs of these people with this new waste collection regime.”

“Sinn Féin will fight hard against these unfair, inequitable charges which will ultimately only damage people’s pockets and the environment.”

Adams urges Taoiseach to recognise the state of Palestine

DSC_3254_6510Speaking in the Dáil yesterday Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD challenged the Taoiseach to “stand up now and formally recognise the state of Palestine. It does not need legislation it only needs for the Taoiseach to take that decision. I invite him to keep to his Government’s commitment to act in the letter and the spirit of the Oireachtas motion of two years ago and to formally recognise the state of Palestine.”

Teachta Adams said:

“The Taoiseach’s reply was vague and unacceptable. We were told that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is concluding work on this issue. But no timeframe for that was given.

The programme for Government states that the Government will “honour our commitment to recognise the State of Palestine”. Two years ago next month the Dáil and Seanad voted to do this. The government has failed to act on this.

Since the beginning of this year 252 Palestinian homes in the West Bank have been demolished. As a result, 1,062 people, including 553 minors, are homeless. In the last 15 years’ Israeli authorities have destroyed approximately 150 internationally funded development projects. This has cost the EU an estimated €58 million.

Among the demolitions were a farming project in the Jordan Valley, a playground near Nablus and a primary school serving a Bedouin community east of Jerusalem. At the same time Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the occupied west Bank.

In recent months there has also been a marked increase in the number of UN and NGO officials being denied entry into Gaza or the west Bank to work on internationally supported projects.

The Taoiseach has been in Gaza and I have been there. It is not a pleasant experience. Imagine living there.

On September 26th I raised this issue of recognition of the state of Palestine with the Taoiseach. Nothing happened.

Previously on June 8th I raised this same issue with the Taoiseach. At that time I was told that the Taoiseach would ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to brief me and the Taoiseach agreed that it “might be no harm if we had a debate on the Palestinian situation in due course”.

Neither the Taoiseach or the Minister for Foreign Affairs have come back to me on this issue nor has the government allotted any time for a debate on the issue of Palestine. It is long past time that this state formally recognised the state of Palestine. The rights of the Palestinian people to statehood should not be dictated by Israeli opposition.”

 

Mosney direct provision centre is like Long Kesh without the watchtowers, armed guards and barbed wire – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described the continued lengthy incarceration of people in direct provision centres as ‘an injustice’ and called on the government to take urgent steps to implement all of the recommendations of the McMahon report into direct provision centres.

The Sinn Féin leader described the Taoiseach’s response to his question on direct provision, (Tuesday Taoiseach’s Questions) which referred only to the introduction of self-catering to Mosney, “as deeply offensive to those who have been trapped in the direct provision system – over six hundred of them for more than 5 years.

Teachta Adams said:

“The government’s Programme for Government’s acknowledges that long durations in direct provision has a negative impact on family life and commits the government to reform. Despite this the government has failed to implement all of the 173 recommendations of the McMahon report which was published almost a year and a half ago.

Last month the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report revealed that one in six people living in direct provision in August this year had already been granted permission to remain in the state. But they have nowhere to go and are consequently stuck in the direct provision system.

In the most recent review of progress in implementing the McMahon report the government admits that just over half – 91 recommendations – have been implemented. The remaining 82 have only been partially implemented or have seen no progress at all. The McMahon report also urged an amnesty for those who have been here more than 5 years.

The direct provision system has been widely and justifiably condemned. It lacks humanity and compassion. Currently, there are 4301 people in direct provision centres. 2611 have been there between one and five years. 614 have lived in these centres for more than five years.

They can’t feed themselves, they aren’t allowed to work and there is a limit on how far children can progress through our education system. They are paid a paltry €19.10 a week with €15.60 for children. Christmas is only seven weeks away. What sort of Christmas can the hundreds of families locked away in the direct provision centres expect to have?

I have visited the direct provision centre in Mosney several times. It is like Long Kesh without the watchtowers, the barbed wire and the armed guards. No one should live there for months, never mind years. When I raised this serious issue with the Taoiseach his response was largely limited to the fact that Mosney now has self-catering and that this will be replicated in other places. This was not a serious answer to a very serious matter. It was for those trapped in that system, deeply offensive.”